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The Classical Music Experience: Discover the Music of the World's Greatest Composers Hardcover – November 1, 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 20 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jacobson, a vascular surgeon who has been a fan of classical music since his teens, is concerned that interest in this music is waning, so he has written a book to introduce the uninitiated to the basic repertoire of "those compositions most often heard at orchestral or chamber music concerts." Uninhibited by his lack of training in performance or music history, he plunges into accounts of 42 major composers, from Palestrina to Leonard Bernstein, chatting about their lives, their musical styles and their best-known compositions. Interspersed are a few pertinent definitions of musical terms, as well as digressions into other topics, such as the structure of the ear, an operation he performed on the artery of a conductor and trips he made to Slovakia (prompted by his discussion of Smetana). Although his sketches of the music are short and overly simple, he often succeeds in capturing the essence of a composer's style the "physical energy" and "dance-like forward motion" of Bach's Third Brandenburg Concerto; the "fine themes, interesting rhythms, rich orchestral sonorities" in Bruckner's symphonies; and the "dark coloring, yet brilliant sound" of Tchaikovsky's orchestration. Unfortunately, his decision not to include opera (except for Wagner) means that a number of popular composers, like Verdi, Rossini and Donizetti, are omitted. The book comes with two CDs containing fragments of some of the works covered. These snippets, with short introductions by actor Kevin Kline, are too brief to provide any real insight into the music (and Kline's delivery is surprisingly dry and faux academic). More helpful are the suggestions Jacobson makes for recordings to buy. The book is elementary and anecdotal, and the doctor's enthusiasm is infectious.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Eminent microsurgeon Jacobson (Mount Sinai Medical Ctr., New York) has cultivated a love of classical music since he was a child. Here, he attempts a short layperson's introduction to the music, describing the lives and oeuvres of 42 composers, from Mozart and Wagner to Leonard Bernstein and Charles Ives. Arranged in roughly chronological order, the chapters range from two pages (Max Bruch) to more than 15 (Beethoven), each highlighting at least one musical work. Inevitably in an arrangement like this, some fine composers are left out; however, sidebars on everything from Hans Pfitzner to the Sezessionists offer nice supplementary information. The novelty of Jacobson's book is the accompanying set of two audio CDs. Actor Kevin Kline summarizes the text in a few words, then musical examples follow. Though this gives the novice a feel for the composer's style, the examples are so brief (more than 50 tracks are on the first disc) as to be almost misleading. The "sound bite" approach may not be the best way to sample an hour-long musical piece and may, in some cases, distort its true essence. Though neophytes may be drawn to this book, Fred Plotkin's recent Classical Music 101 is a better overall introduction. Recommended only for libraries wanting a book/CD introduction to classical music. Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ., Kingsville
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Sourcebooks MediaFusion; Har/Com edition (November 1, 2002)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1570719500
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1570719509
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.95 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 7 x 1.2 x 10 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.0 out of 5 stars 20 ratings

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Kevin H.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great into to appreciating and understanding classical music.
Reviewed in Canada on August 22, 2016
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